Wheat harvest is getting into full swing across England with crops coming off the field with reasonably good yields and quality, a welcome change to poorer crops of winter barley and oilseed rape.

Sunshine in July and early August seems to have helped winter wheat and spring barley crops pick up and growers are reporting grain quality which is meeting milling and malting specification.

Even though wet weather called combining to a halt on Thursday (11 Aug) for Stuart Baker, at Ivy House Farm, Woodbridge, Suffolk, wheat harvest is off to a reasonable start.

Mr Baker started in the wheat on Monday and has cut two 20ha fields of the feed variety Graham, with a specific weight of 77kg/hl and yields of 9.8t/ha and 10.2t/ha.

“The 10.2t/ha field was in its 30th year of continuous wheat and the yield averaged what we expect on the farm,” he says.

See also: Harvest 2016: Wheat yields take a dip on the Fens

Mr Baker has also combined a 20ha plot of Diego grown as a second wheat, which yielded 9.8t/ha with a specific weight of 75kg/hl. He started in a field of Grafton, which was showing a specific weight of 72.5kg/hl and he estimates that it will yield between 10.5t/ha and 11t/ha.

“The wheats are surprisingly good considering how bad the barley and rapeseed was,” he adds.

His Glacier winter barley yielded between 7.5t/ha and 8t/ha, which is about 25% down on normal, with specific weights of 57-67kg/hl. Mr Baker’s oilseed rape came in between 3.3t/ha and 4t/ha, with the first oil content test at 44.6%.

Pleasing results in Worcestershire

Chris Cooke, farming near Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, has finished combining his oilseed rape crop with pleasing results.

A 23ha block of the variety Advance yielded up to 4.9t/ha, although some poorer patches are nearer 2t/ha where smaller fields suffered from slug damage over the wet winter.

“One thing I did notice was how big the seeds were. Generally, folks have been saying that seeds are small this year,” he says.

In Shropshire, Rob Bebbington has had a disappointing barley harvest, with yields 50% down on last year and poor quality, and adds that it is similar picture across his area.

He has not started wheat harvest yet but hopes to get into the crop this weekend.

“The wheat looks good and the weather is helping. The oats also look better,” he says.

Pleasant surprise in Wiltshire

Harvest is going rather well for Josh Stratton at East Farm, Codford St Mary, Wiltshire.  His winter wheat has been a pleasant surprise, averaging 11.1t/ha and achieving specific weights of between 78kg/hl and 80kg/hl so far.

“It has been a real surprise but the weather in July has saved us. It all looked average in the field but having harvested some it has done better than expected and I am excited about the rest,” he says.

It was the first dry August since 2006 for Mr Stratton so the combine is on full throttle although the straw is green, which is slowing the machine down.

Mr Stratton has finished cutting all of his Venture winter barley, which though under budget on yield at 7.3t/ha, has made the grade for malting.

“As it has made specification, I am reasonably happy with that,” he says.

Mr Stratton’s Null-Lox spring barley variety Chapeau is also doing well, with 60ha achieving 8.5t/ha, at 1.6% nitrogen and achieving full malting specification.

He has also cut 170ha of oilseed rape, with the first 30ha achieving 3.1t/ha, although the final average came to 3.9t/ha.

“We budgeted for 4t/ha, so I am happy with that. However, oils were a bit low at 43%, when we usually get 46% or 47%,” he adds.